Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Season in Review: Chicago Fire

Record: 8-20-6, 30 pts, 10th Place Eastern Conference
Goals For: 43
Goals Against: 58

Team Leaders

Goals: David Accam - 10
Assists: Harry Shipp - 8
Shutouts: Sean Johnson - 4
All-Stars: None

Year in Review

Chicago made a lot of noise this past offseason bringing in players like David Accam, Kennedy Igboananike, Adaílton, Guly Do Prado, Jon Busch, Michael Stephens, Joevin Jones and Shaun Maloney. Unfortunately, most of the moves didn't pay off. Do Prado parted on mutual terms in early August after fifteen scoreless appearances while Maloney, the Scottish International, was transferred to Hull City a few weeks later after scoring just 3 goals in 14 appearances. Big Brazilian center back Adaílton failed to provide stability along a back line that surrendered a league worst 58 goals, and overall the club just never really got into a groove peaking with a three game winning streak that ended in early April; in Chicago's final eight matches, they lost seven times. Several midseason moves fell flat for the Fire as well including their trade of Quincy Amarikwa to the Quakes for defender Ty Harden. The Fire then watched Amarikwa - who went scoreless in 14 games for the Fire this season - finish as the Quakes second leading scorer with six goals and third on the club in assists with four. Harden, meanwhile, made just three starts for Chicago. The Fire also had to endure winning the rights to Didier Drogba only basically having to trade him to Montreal instead. And you all know how that Drogba guy ended up doing up north. Finally, Mike Magee - who scored 21 goals in 2013 - never fully recovered from last season's injury and was limited to just 3 starts while being held scoreless. It wasn't all bad though despite the club record 20 losses. Accam finished the season with ten goals and Igboananike added seven more of his own. Harry Shipp showed his rookie season wasn't a fluke with a solid second season including eight assists, SuperDraftee Matt Polster garnered USMNT U-23 attention with his performance, and Joevin Jones showed tremendous versatility playing all over the field while making 28 appearances. Finally, Gilberto, although a consolation prize following the loss of Drogba, finally gave the attack some consistency and credibility as his five goals were the fourth most on the team despite his appearing in just ten matches.

What's Next?

The Fire have an open Designated Player spot on their roster so they could go out this offseason and make a splashy signing to go along with Accam and Gilberto. It will be interesting to see how they use that though as their biggest needs aren't necessarily in flashy positions. There's no question that Chicago will need to address the issues along their back line going forward. Offensively, despite their shortcomings in 2015, this group has the playmakers to be competitive in the East, but adding depth to their attack certainly wouldn't hurt them. Goalkeeper becomes a bit of a question mark as well with ongoing rumors about Sean Johnson's departure overseas, but even if he leaves, they do have veteran Jon Busch, as well as Alec Kann who made six saves in the season finale on the roster. The Fire last made the postseason in 2012, and they have their work cut out for them, but they at least appear to have some pieces in place to begin to turn things around.

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